Meet Lisa Banwell of Queenie & Pearl: October Business Owner of the Month
Each month, we’ll be featuring a different Supplied customer who’s totally killing it in her business. If you’d like to be considered for future months, send an email to [email protected] and tell us a bit about your business!
Lisa Banwell had dreamed of starting her own brick-and-mortar boutique since she was a little girl – and two years ago, that dream came true. She started up as a mobile pop-up store back in 2016, and in 2018 she took the leap of faith and opened her very own permanent storefront in Minneapolis. Queenie & Pearl features new, handmade, and vintage clothing, vinyl records, and a creative studio.
We chatted with Lisa all about her rock ‘n’ roll vintage boutique, her experience running a brick-and-mortar store, and her big goals for the future. Read on – there’s a lot we all can learn from her!
Why did you start your boutique?
Ever since my grandma let me loose in her closet to try on her crushed velvet peacock blue pumps, elbow-length gloves, and silk slips, I’ve always been passionate about refining, remixing, and collecting.
A few years back, I had one of those moments where I had to step back and take stock of my life. I realized if I was ever going to start taking steps toward my dream of owning my own clothing shop, it had to be soon. I started right then and there and never looked back.
Who’s your ideal customer?
Free-spirited people! Honestly, that’s the common thread that I find brings people to my shop. Beyond age or gender or any other demographics, Queenie and Pearl is for all the free-spirited babes out there looking to enhance their own individual style.
What’s been your greatest accomplishment so far?
Honestly? Making it through this year! Since Queenie and Pearl relies a lot on foot traffic and in-person shoppers, having to close our storefront due to COVID-19 really hit us hard. But we never gave up – we figured out how to continue serving our customers and operating our business.
We started devoting more attention to Instagram, selling through stories and then hand-delivering items all throughout the Minneapolis area. We also designed and launched our website while our physical storefront was closed. While closing our store for a time was rough, there’s definitely been a silver lining in it all – it’s strengthened our relationships with customers and inspired us to think bigger, beyond our community.
How do your customers typically find you?
We find most of our customers via foot traffic and pop-ups, but we’ve recently started building an online audience as well. Our Instagram audience has grown really gradually, but they’re very engaged. I try my best to be really authentic in everything we post on there, and I personally answer every single DM that comes in. I think that connection makes a big difference.
What’s a goal you have for your business?
I LOVE being local, but especially after this past year, I want to continue expanding Queenie and Pearl to reach a wider, national audience.
What advice would you give to someone else thinking of starting a boutique?
Well… the advice everyone gave me was “don’t start a brick-and-mortar boutique!” But that’s not what I’d say. I love having a physical storefront and people have responded great to our vision. It may not pay the bills as well as a different business model might, but it makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning.
My advice is: be authentic, be different and just do it. Don’t be afraid – you’ll find your people, and they’ll find you, too.
Follow along on Lisa’s business journey!